Apollo users can decline refunds to protest Reddit’s actions

Popular Reddit client Apollo will allow users to decline refunds for subscriptions they have recently bought, days before the app is due to permanently shut down. The move comes amid a public dispute between the app’s developer and Reddit after the latter sprung massive charges onto developers with little notice, leading to enormous protests from the site’s users.

Apollo is due to shut down on June 30, 2023. Ordinarily, the developer would be forced to refund any subscribers out of their own pocket, something Apollo creator Christian Selig said would cost him around $250,000.

Three iPhones side-by-side show the Apollo app for Reddit. On-screen are messages allowing users to decline a refund for their subscription, a thank you message, and a set of special wallpapers.
Alex Blake / Digital Trends

However, large numbers of users said they would decline the refunds in solidarity with Selig and in protest over Reddit’s actions, and the latest update to Apollo allows them to do just that.

Now, when a subscriber updates Apollo to the latest version, a pop-up appears titled “Decline refund option.” It goes on to state: “If you’ve been happy with Apollo and don’t need me to send a pro-rated refund out-of-pocket for remaining subscription time, please choose this option. I thank you.” Users can tap the “I Don’t Need a Refund” button to send the remaining balance of their subscription to the developer.

As well as that, Apollo is also offering the “Goodbye Apollo Wallpaper Set,” a collection of over 20 mobile, tablet and desktop wallpapers designed by supportive artists.

It’s reminiscent of a similar dispute between Twitter and the creators of third-party clients Twitterific and Tweetbot. After Elon Musk bought Twitter, the company drastically raised the price of API access, forcing many third-party clients to shut down. Both Twitterific and Tweetbot allowed users to decline refunds to show their support for the developers.

Public acrimony

The Reddit app icon on an iOS Home screen.
Brett Jordan / Pexels

The acrimony between Reddit and third-party clients was first made public by Selig on May 31, when the developer said that Reddit was planning to charge apps that used its API substantial figures for access — in Apollo’s case, this would be $20 million a year, far beyond what Selig felt was a reasonable amount.

Worse, Reddit only gave developers a month to comply. For Selig and many other developers, this was nowhere near enough time to find $1.6 million a month. The move led many to believe Reddit was simply trying to shut down rivals that competed with its own app, which is far inferior to Apollo and other similar products.

Bullying behavior

Three iPhones side by side showing the third-party Reddit app Apollo on their screens.
Alex Blake / Digital Trends

Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman hardly covered himself in glory during this period, repeatedly making what appeared to be false statements and personal attacks against third-party developers. At one point, Huffman claimed Selig had tried to blackmail Reddit, which was disproved when Selig released audio recordings of his conversations with Reddit.

The furore over the actions of Reddit and its CEO’s seemingly unprofessional behavior led to massive protests on the site, including a 48-hour blackout involving some of the site’s largest subreddits. Among those to shut their doors were the Pics, Music and Science subreddits, home to almost 100 million users alone. In total, it’s estimated subreddits totalling 2.5 billion users went dark during the protest.

While Reddit has succeeded in forcing third-party apps to close, it may be a Pyrrhic victory, with the company suffering widespread public derision ahead of its planned IPO later this year. Apollo, meanwhile, has generated masses of public support in the same time. For many users, declining a refund will be another chance to vote with their cash.

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